There’s no “wrong” way to draft a novel. I personally belong to the school of a little plotting. But all of my “plotting” goes out the window when I’m neck deep in a draft like I am right now. I know how the story ends. I know the high points I need to hit. I’ve written almost every word of that should make a rough draft. But I still feel like I’m invariably doing it wrong.
You see, while I’m definitely a plotter, I do change and make things up as I go along like a pantser (aka someone who writes without an outline). And these changes lend themselves to major inconsistencies in the story. And that drives the perfectionist side of me nuts. So, my regular writing pattern is to edit the last chapter I worked and then write the new one, rinse and repeat. But this time, it’s not working that grand for me.
While my edit-as-I-go methods were have worked in the past, when I discovered a huge change I needed to make, the editor in my head, or head-editor, got in the way. Suddenly, my entire draft looks a lot messier than it did before. All those plot holes I glossed over trip me up. All the awkward phrases and inconsistencies make me want to scream. The editor is in and the writer is out.
I have a damn good head-editor. I can hone in on problems in other people’s work, and in my own, with the precision of a sniper. But the head-editor doesn’t write. And when the draft isn’t complete and the editor is free, finishing the draft is put on pause until the editor is satisfied (which is never, let’s be honest).
So how do you silence the head-editor and write? I would get so much more work done if I knew an easy solution for this, but I don’t. What you do, what I do, is keep on writing anyway. Okay, so I also bum around online reading random articles or semi-encouraging ones like this one or this other one.
Maybe those articles put the head-editor to sleep for an hour, if you’re lucky, and you write. Some days it doesn’t work, and instead, you serve the editor. But you keep on sneaking in the writing when you can. Because you must. Because that’s what it means to be a writer, to tell a story, that you get that draft down on paper no matter what obstacles, self or other-made, stand before you.
After all, if it was easy, everyone would do it.